Halloween is just around the corner and the abundance of candy has made me once again think about how my daughter randomly has it in the bottom of her backpack. The wrappers were the first clue and then I would start to find pieces that she had yet to eat. Three weeks into the school year, I had enough. I ask her “where in the world are you getting this from? Her reply, “my teacher”. What? Why would your teacher give you candy I ask? In her matter-of-fact six year old tone, she says, “Well mom, because our class was good”. Hmm….because they were good. Before saying anything further and risk looking like the crazy momma, I tell her to finish her homework.
My mind becomes flooded with various thoughts such as: Why does our society have this love affair with food? Why are we teaching our children that there is a cause and effect relationship with behavior and food? Finally, why as a healthy mom do I not have any control or say over what is going into my child’s mouth? Now keep in mind, I am all for occasionally taking my kids to the ice cream shop or giving them a piece of candy. I like ice cream just as much as the next mom. However, the key is “occasionally”. Furthermore, I as a parent, should be the one that has a voice in what I allow my child to eat. Now, I do expect that when she is at school there will be the occasional birthday treat or holiday party treat, but a treat just because she was “good?” I would suspect that it would be just as easy for a teacher to provide “trinkets” as “treats”. Those can easily be bought at a dollar store and used as rewards for the children that are good in class.
This issue filters in to another, which is the alarming obesity rates in this country and how are children are exhibiting chronic disease symptoms which normally would not present itself till adulthood. Those such as high blood pressure and diabetes are becoming commonplace, when even 20 years ago were unheard of in a 10-year-old.
Having a wellness background as a consultant, trainer and co-founder of an active living organization, I know I am biased. So tell me teachers, is there an alternative way to giving candy based on a child’s good behavior? I think there is. Communities, parents, as well as schools are all an integral part of tackling this obesity issue. We have an ethical responsibility to our children and their future to make sure that we give them the best start possible. As a wellness consultant, I have made an appointment with the principle to see how I can assist with making changes. Small changes turn into big changes and you have to start somewhere. Rather than pulling out the candy from the backpack, I would be overjoyed to pull out a flower plastic ring instead!